When I've written about offensive units in the past, the discussion has pretty much involved describing a central hub that is surrounded by a small handful of other individual contributors. For example:
- Stony Brook, while presenting a multi-faceted approach, still relied heavily on Kevin Crowley to generate offense this season.
- Cornell's mega-attack is ultimately driven getting Rob Pannell touches and letting him make things happen.
- Drexel really used Scott Perri this season as its alpha and omega contributor, although Robert Church provided value from other means.
Maryland's offense is a different kind of cat, man. The Terrapins are rolling with some high profile guns that get lots of ink -- Ryan Young, Grant Catalino, Owen Blye, Joe Cummings -- but Maryland doesn't rely on them exclusively to generate an efficient offense. Rather, the Terrapins really distribute the load among nine or 10 guys to efficiently score.
The end result has been a unit that is currently ranked second in offensive assist rate (assists per 100 offensive possessions) at 20.75 and 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency (goals per 100 offensive possessions) at 32.17.
Here's a quick chart illustrating Maryland's five players that have generated at least 20 points on the season:
T.O.V. = Total offensive value (individual points per 100 possessions).
Having gone through the above-linked analyses, I had a hunch that these five guys were really working with each other and individually to generate Maryland's assist-heavy offense. It turns out that my assumption was kind of off-base: A lot of the Terrapins' offense involves these five guys, but almost 40% of their individual point generation is attributable to working with other players.
Now that is multiplicity.
Here's a chart that illustrates Maryland's scoring distribution on the year in the context of the above-referenced five players. It's pretty easy to understand. For example, Blye and Young have hooked up for a score five times this season (Young has provided Blye with three assists; Blye has provided Young with two). As you can see, scoring contributions come from across the board and aren't centralized within Maryland's biggest point generators:
- If you're looking for a quick conclusion it's this: If you try to limit Young and shut him off, you don't necessarily limit Catalino (and vice versa). This is such a multi-faceted offense. 56% of the goals that Catalino has scored this year have come via a helper from someone other than Maryland's leading assist man (Young). Almost 42% of Young's assists have gone to someone other than Catalino. This is the problem with looking a points aggregation chart: The fact that there are two guys at the top of the table doesn't mean that they are working together all the time to generate offense. For Maryland, especially, it has been guys outside of the Terrapins' top-five that have been creating the opportunities for tallies.
- A big reason for Maryland's ability to distribute scoring opportunities and conversions is that the Terrapins run their pick-heavy offense almost as well as anyone in the country. Guys are finding space and players aren't afraid to feed the open man. This provides two-fold value: 1) Shut down defenders can't seize control of the game like they can against offenses that are buoyed by individual players that thrive on creating unassisted scoring opportunities; and 2) It limits the ability of the defense to control short-stick and long-stick marking assignments. With so many individual offensive options that can contribute at a high rate, Maryland has tilted the advantage in its favor.
- If just below half of Maryland's offense involves players outside of the above-mentioned top-five, where are the additional contributions coming from? In short, it's a combination of Drew Snider, Jake Bernhardt, and Kevin Cooper from the midfield and Travis Reed on close attack. These guys are filling out the offense when necessary, working especially well with Young and Catalino. They're almost like fungible goods in that there's mutual substitution. With the amount of production they've provided over the course of the year, it's surprising that the Maryland offense was as bad as it was against Colgate when Catalino and Cummings were out.
- On Ryan Young: This guy will throttle you as many ways as he can. He's quick enough to beat his man and generate a tally on his own, exemplified by his unassisted goal rate. In large part, he gets Joe Cummings going, accounting for almost 30% of Cummings' goals on the season. He varies the attack point, spreading the ball around the field to whoever's open. He also intertwines himself into his teammates' offense, receiving a helper on 11 of his 19 goals. He's just a weapon that understands his role as the quarterback of the Terrapins offense. He's also everywhere on the field, which is really scary.
- Similar to the Stony Brook distribution chart, there is high-value bunching in the first through fifth hole. This shows me that offense isn't getting run through one or two guys; the Terrapins are generating scores via a host of guys getting it done in different ways. I like that; you can never have too many options to beat an opponent.
- Question: Who do you try and stop to limit Maryland's offense? Answer: Nobody; I think you need to first stop the system, not necessarily the individual players. If you first try and shut down individual players -- and Maryland has a ton of them that can beat you -- you miss the bigger picture that this offense can strike you a thousand different ways.
Here's the sharing chart for the top-five point producers. It shows assists-in and assists-out:
Here's how to read this thing. Everything is color coded, so even a six year-old can figure it out. Follow the colors. For example, Young has provided Blye three assists; Blyehas provided Young with two. Cummings has provided Blye with one assist; Blyehas returned the favor to Cummings with four. So on and so forth. Just follow the colored stripes to each name.